Last Tuesday, the first night of the fest, we went out to the Ella Lounge in the Lower East Side and caught up with some fresh faces. Mals Totem came together in January, 2010, founded on the description of “Pet Rock, or Ragna Rock, we’ve been in between the two.” Huh? Well, they also seemed to mix an appreciation of Mars Volta with Radiohead, which showed amply in their vocals and overall muscular melody. Poor Remy, a three piece from Queens, NY, demonstrated some good ol’ folk music, citing Akron Family and the Avett Brothers as heavy hitting influences. Tei Shei followed, with this being their debut performance. The group mixed a sort of deep brooding electronics, laid on heavy and thick, with delicate vocals reminiscent of iamamiwhoami. The Rotaries provided spacey jams in a mellow approach that warmed the crowd up quite well for Catey Shaw (her first of two CMJ Music Marathon shows). Shaw was in top form. She was at her best when playing acoustically, and demonstrated a great deal of variety in terms of songwriting, with some verses echoing influences of hip-hop, others in a more traditional ballad vein, but all phenomenal across the board.
Words and photos by Ryan Loewy.